An Electronic Technology Program to Locate Missing Persons
In 2007, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s office, in conjunction with the Alzheimer Society of Washington (ASW), adopted PLS to aid in the search and rescue of missing Alzheimer’s patients. The sheriff’s office purchased five sets of receiver equipment to track the transmitter bracelets purchased by ASW for placement on affected individuals.
Who is Project Lifesaver for?
Frequently Asked Questions
How does it work?
If or when a PLS participant goes missing, the Search and Rescue coordinator (a deputy sheriff) responds to the place where the individual was last seen and attempts to locate the signal from the bracelet. If he can do so, the individual is quickly found and returned to a safe environment. If he cannot hear the signal, he calls for the assistance of trained search and rescue volunteers who will search in a spiral fashion away from the point where the individual was last seen. When the signal is detected, they converge and locate the individual.
Nationally, the average search time for an Alzheimer’s patient drops from twelve hours to about thirty minutes using this technology. When you think of a ninety-pound, eighty-year-old grandmother outside in twenty degree weather in her nightgown, this reduction in search time can easily mean the difference between life and death.
How does it work?
Once we have all of the necessary documentation to create the participant’s profile (which is copied and sent to the Whatcom County sheriff’s department), we place the locating bracelet on either the wrist or ankle of the participant. We are able to come to you if you cannot come to us. In the event that the participant wanders, the caregiver is instructed to call 9-1-1 and request the Whatcom County sheriff search and rescue deputy and explain that the participant is missing but has a locating device on their person. Search and rescue takes it from there.
Why not use GPS technology instead of radio frequency technology?
If you prefer a GPS device, they are easy to find on the internet at such places as pocketfinder.com, brickhousesecurity.com, and mobilehelp.com.